What to do when you come across an existential problem? Is it better trying to defuse it with positive thinking, or going into it and rub it in, or … .. what else?
Take as a fact that you cannot change the external reality, but only your own, because you’re always the point of departure and arrival. So let’s see the options to work on yourself, and where they lead.
1. I have a negative problem and I turn it upside down
It’s the positive thinking approach. How does it work? Let’s see some examples.
-My Boss treats me badly at work, he doesn’t consider me as a person and only takes advantage of me. So every morning I remind myself to think that today will not be so. I imagine that he will treat me well and that things will change for the better. I smile when I see him and I think he is not so bad, I send him my positive thoughts (which aren’t supported by what I really feel).
It’s all apparently cute but …. What will happen if the boss responds harshly to me for the umpteenth time? I will lose the opportunity to see what he is mirroring back to me, and to understand something about myself, because I’m so focused on positive thinking, that I lose sight of my path, giving value only to the (alleged) results.
And if the boss is kind to me, my ego …. Well it will soar!
-I’m worried that my financial revenues are not sufficient. Then I might think something like: “Today money are coming” and maybe I visualize them as well, in such a way I avoid to be afraid, but I don’t transform fear. And there is a good chance that money does not come, making me go into confusion and bringing me down. “But why? I was thinking positive, wasn’t I? Why didn’t it happen?”
Positive thinking alone isn’t the solution, it doesn’t bear fruits, it only serves to temporarily ward off the problem and to reduce anxiety for a while. But just as quickly you will witness the recurrence of the problem, which was not addressed but only evaded, it wasn’t eradicated at its root, because inside of you a work of transformation has not been triggered.
Positive thinking can have its use, but only within certain limits: it distracts us from following the downward slope of pessimism, as it saves us from the worst evils that our mind would produce, since it’s heavily conditioned and prone to misery and self-pity. But you need to recognize that it is just a placebo, a first-aid remedy, it isn’t is the real cure.
It’s something we often use to postpone the true resolution.
By imagining beautiful things that are the opposite of a reality that you don’t like, you are sending energy in the positive direction, but the trouble is that you send out a little amount of it because you have little: in this way, the only energy that you are able to convey is the conscious one, which is similar to the tip of the iceberg. You’re still unaware of much of yourself, of the submerged and unconscious mass that, in fact, makes you attract things you even don’t want. You have no choice because you’re not free. You’re only making a compromise, but remember: it is only a truce!
2. I have a problem and I go inside it
It’s a widespread tendency to work on oneself by going into problematic issues, analyzing them one at a time, as if they were separate from you.
Let’s see which would be the approach in the above examples.
-I analyze the relationship with my boss. I consider his type of character, interpreting what he meant in the situation, when he turned to me harshly. I speculate, as I prepare myself to give some feedback the next time I’ll meet him.
Unlike positive thinking, in this case I allow myself to feel the wound, but I cannot go beyond the wound itself.
It’s a kind of thinking that stops to the outside causes, and implies the attempt to change things there to feel a bit better. Decisions made under this influence are bound to fail, because they’re marked by non-acceptance. Your reaction is due to the conviction that you are right. Once again, the opportunity to look in the mirror is lost, or if it is temporarily taken, it just makes you feel wrong, making you prefer to direct your attention on the outside, precisely on the problem. Assuming attitudes of superiority is one of the strategies preferred by the ego: you maintain a good self-image because you are a “good problem solver”. All this keeps us within the narrow boundaries of personality.
-In the case of money, I perceive them as something detached from me, as a necessary evil, as something that is needed to live, but that I would rather avoid. Maybe I think about how to spare them, thus moving towards misery, or about how to earn more by resorting to loopholes, often saying yes to jobs that I would not do …. an overall view is completely lacking, there is no contact with creativity, with inventiveness, with the enthusiasm to enact something beautiful and original from which income can derive.
As with positive thinking, this approach is mind-based: the person is not fully aware, but he/she is still partially fragmented, maybe he doesn’t admit it, so he resorts to will-power, but without appreciable results. The meaning of what is experienced is still missing.
On one hand, it’s good to know there is a problem: at least you’re not pretending it’s not there, and that everything is fine! On the other hand, you need to know that it is equally important to devote your attention on HOW to deal with it. The most obvious trend is to use the mode which is customary for you, that is what you have, but, as Einstein said “A problem cannot be solved by the same kind of mind that created it.”
3. I have a problem and I face it asking myself “WHO AM I?”
It’s what we do during the enlightenment intensive.
It is my own experience how difficult it is to ask oneself “WHO AM I” on our own, without a guide, without the support of a team of masters who have already widely enquired into this question upon themselves and with people.
You may be bound to think that this quest is nothing more than an enigma destined to remain so, or you mistakenly believe you already know who you are, perhaps resorting to spiritual concepts … or relying on your personality traits! Missing the opportunity to experience what a blessing it is to undertake this path to work on yourself.
We have been used, not only in this incarnation but also in past ones, to exist oblivious of ourselves, looking outside, or trying to go inside ourselves with partial means, that produced half-solutions, which in turn caused other issues.
It would be obvious to think, “What the hell? What asking WHO AM I got to do with the solution to my problems?” “I have something else to think than keeping up with abstract things…” “First I have to do this and that … have more self-esteem, love me more, etc …. then maybe one day I’ll be ready to know directly myself. ”
These examples give us the measure how far we are from ourselves to even consider the question “Who am I?” as something irrelevant to our personal growth.
But exactly the opposite is the case. It has definitely to do with it! You have produced your problems, you have attracted them, they are part of you, it’s you and only you who can solve them. But who are you? If you don’t know who you are, how can you say “I solve problems”? Who is this person, that BEING that should fix them? And how could he, if he doesn’t know who he is?
WHO AM I? Enquiring now, and then now again, not occasionally, but assiduously, with the living support around you, in the right context, you give yourself the opportunity to realize that:
- -your attention shifts from the issues to WHO has generated it
- -therefore you automatically go to the origin of the problem
- -you don’t waste time and energy to investigate the problem
- -you enquire directly on you
This way you come to the direct experience of YOU as you really are. This is not explainable in words, since it’s a realization different for each of us.
Which are the consequences, about where we started from, i.e. the resolution of personal problems?
- -A new vision of things arises, because the direct and total contact with yourself produces an equally direct and immediate perception of reality: you have it in your hands, you no longer need to process it nor think about it.
- -False problems fall on their own: because your perspective about things has changed, it is highly possible that you will not even remember having had certain difficulties, having wasted time and attention on them. You realize that this kind of issues was 99% based on having projected yourself outside of you, on others: automatically you delegated to them a resolution that only you could find.
- -Real issues find solution by themselves: because you are yourself, you naturally face what is yours, what is up to you, because existence has made you this way and it puts in your hands certain situations, to which now you can respond appropriately.
The enlightenment intensive clarifies your perception of yourself, it refines it and it makes it present all the time, so that you re-learn something that should be the most natural thing in the world, and that instead we have unlearned: to stay in the present with totality, to be grounded in awareness, which includes what occurs moment by moment, opening the way to a life without problems.
What is a personal problem? It’s a bundle of things that haven’t been fixed in real time. Why? Because you were not there. And a point comes when they must be seen and solved, because you cannot postpone them anymore.
To be ONE in yourself is to live in the NOW experientially, not as a concept or as an idea. And it is in the now that everything is put in its place in a natural and simple way.
So awareness becomes complete, and you recognize yourself as such: a witnessing being that is no longer interested in problems, nor to their solutions, but that recognizes itself every moment as THE solution.
These are just some implications of self-awareness.
There are many more.
To participate in the enlightenment intensive is the opportunity to explore them.
By Renata Rosa Ughini
Copyright 2016 – All Rights Reserved –
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“You are the answer that created the questions” – Rumi –
The words of Osho
“Deal with things moment to moment, don’t let them pile up within you. Don’t accumulate. Life is really beautiful. It becomes ugly. It is not a problem. Every problem is SO SMALL that it is foolish to call life a problem. It is not a problem for the trees, it is not a problem for the birds, it is not a problem for the earth, for the sky, it is only a problem for man, because only man has learned a trick – the trick of postponement. Then small things become bigger. Then a moment comes when you cannot cope with them. Then YOU become so small and the problem is so big, it is almost impossible to cope with it, then you always carry its burden on your head. And with that much burden, how can you enjoy? how can you delight? how can you celebrate? how can you dance? [ …..]
Everything is small and easy in the present. If you don’t postpone, everything is easy and small. You are powerful enough to change it, to transform it. But if you say: I will see to it tomorrow; if you say: There is no hurry; if you take it easy and you say: Some day when I have enough time I will see to the problem; then the problem will meanwhile grow and take root. Don’t postpone it, because then you will not be able to do much about it. That’s what you have been doing up to now. You have been postponing FOR LIVES. And then you come to me and you say: We would like to be silent. We would like to be peaceful – and for many lives you have been postponing problems which are boiling within you. They have to be tackled. A great surgery is needed. But you are in such a hurry again. A few days people meditate, four or five days, and then they come to me and they say: Nothing is happening yet. Can’t you see the ridiculousness of it? What are you asking? For many lives you postpone. Then your being becomes like a ruin. Your garden is there no more. Everything is destroyed, only weeds subsist. And suddenly one day you want to have a beautiful lawn. It will take time. The weeds have to be thrown out. Their roots and seeds have to be thrown out. The soil has to be changed. It is not easy now. But you can do at least one thing: you can start living moment to moment, so at least you are not gathering more nonsense around you, more rubbish around you; at least you can clean one part of the garden and start working moment to moment. And once you know how problems have become difficult, and once you come to understand that they ARE easy if you tackle them in the beginning, everything will become easy again. But that feeling, that nuance, that knack, has to be learnt.
[Lao Tsu says] THE DIFFICULT PROBLEMS OF THE WORLD MUST BE DEALT WITH WHILE THEY ARE YET EASY; THE GREAT PROBLEMS OF THE WORLD MUST BE DEALT WITH WHILE THEY ARE YET SMALL. THEREFORE THE SAGE BY NEVER DEALING WITH GREAT PROBLEMS ACCOMPLISHES GREATNESS. These things look like paradoxes – they are not. They are simple statements with no contradiction in them. THEREFORE THE SAGE BY NEVER DEALING WITH GREAT PROBLEMS… because he has no great problems. He never deals with great problems that’s why he is great.
In your understanding just the opposite is the case. You think some man is so great because he has dealt with such great problems. Such great challenges! And he has conquered them. This is foolish! A great man has nothing to conquer. The greater he is, the less there is to conquer, if he is really great there is nothing to conquer. The greatest man has no problems to solve, neither great nor small. Because he never allows them to accumulate. They become problems only when postponed. Right now – lived, they are not problems, they are part of life, and beautiful! Just start being alert. Whenever you see some problem is arising, drop all activity. Look to it, pay attention to it; just look within, at what it is. Sometimes just a smile will be enough to change it, just laughter will do, and you will be out of the vicious circle. Sometimes nothing will be needed, not even a smile and a laugh, just the very attention, that you looked into it, and it will disappear, as dewdrops disappear in the morning when the sun rises. Just look. Bring the sun of consciousness to it, it will disappear – it is so small and you are so big and so vast! Just the very encounter, that you look at it – and it changes its quality. It is a problem no more. You can delight in it, you can enjoy it. Then life becomes a drama.”
From “TAO, the three treasures”, Vol. 3, Chapter 7